I'm considering buying a netbook for the express purpose of writing maths notes/articles (so as to not heft my Macbook around), hence (La)TeX is a must. The most obvious choice is to work with Linux, but failing that I was wondering if there is a LaTeX distribution for Chrome. And as I'm unfamiliar with the version/s of windows that appear on netbooks, would the usual distributions (MikTeX, say) work for them?

  • Does tex.stackexchange.com/questions/3396/… answer your question?
    – Dima
    Nov 18, 2010 at 0:48
  • I want to be able to work offline, so google docs is not the solution I'm looking for! Nov 18, 2010 at 0:57
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    Not too realistic a solution, but in the worst case a simple text editor should suffice: you can always build the documents on your Macbook when you get home. Nov 18, 2010 at 2:29
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    @Caramdir Chrome is (apparently) also an operating system Nov 18, 2010 at 6:19
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    Why this insistence on "netbook-suitable" distribution of linux? Netbooks are perfectly capable running "normal" distributions of linux, even ones compiled from source. (Disclaimer, I run Gentoo on my netbook, and texlive works just fine.) Nov 18, 2010 at 16:18

11 Answers 11


Google Chrome OS is just a basic basic stuff that is needed to start the web browser, not much more.

My guess is to use something like the netbook edition of Ubuntu, that one has a gui that may fits those smaller screen quite well.

And the goodie is then that you can apt-get all the normal LaTeX packages that is present in the normal Ubuntu dist.

  • Thanks, Johan. These are all great answers, but as one commenter pointed out, real estate is a key issue for netbooks, so a purpose built gui is preferable, so your answer fits best for what I am looking for. And thanks for the (embarrassingly obvious) fact about Chrome - for some reason I thought it was a full-blown OS. :S Nov 18, 2010 at 22:44
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    One thing about using apt is that the packages tend to come in chunks of several hundred megabytes. You end up with a lot of stuff you don't use and netbook drives tend to be on the small side. Installing TeX live and managing things with tlmgr may save space and keep version numbers fresher than what you find in the Ubuntu and Debian repos.
    – Sharpie
    Dec 7, 2010 at 8:32

Even if Google Chrome is just a browser, the idea that you can use your netbook as a frontend to a web-based editor and a cloud-backed LaTeX compiler might be tempting, given that the resources of those machines are limited.

I know two of such services:

Both allow you to compile the PDF "on the cloud" and will let you download the PDF.

I don't know how they behave with custom macros and such, but it could be a good idea for smallish and not-so-important projects.


As far as I know, there is no special version of Windows for netbooks. Indeed I am told that the only reason to use Windows on netbooks is because you can use all your regular Windows application. So yes, you will be able to use MikTeX and your favorite text editor.

For Linux based netbook operating systems, TeX Live should install fine.

There even seems to be a port for the N900 phone, no luck for Android based devices though.

(Note that this only applies as long as the netbook is not completely locked down (like iDevices). I do not know if there are currently any lock down netbooks on the market.)

  • Cool to use the N900, that phone is so great :)
    – Johan
    Nov 18, 2010 at 7:25
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    By the way, TeX Live does work on windows, too.
    – mpg
    Nov 18, 2010 at 11:00

If you are comfortable with a delayed compile, you can write it on one machine and compile on another later. If you are coding LaTeX, presumably you don't need WYSIWYG.

If you want the PS/PDF now, and are online, you can install Dropbox, set up a remote compile script, and therefore let LaTeX reside on a different computer.


Linux runs flawlessly on my asus 1005ha 10 inch netbook :P So do the ConTeXt minimals.

MikTeX is excellent and will run on Vista/7/XP TeXLive is available from the ubuntu package manager, or you can install TeXLive on your own.

WINDOWS is not your only option on a netbook!


Chrome is essentially a linux distribution, so with some hacking you will be able to get a linux distribution of latex working on ChromeOS. This however, will be without the blessed wonders of a package manager, so you will have to keep track of everything yourself, and download all the extra (non-latex2e) packages yourself. Personally I would just install Ubuntu netbook remix.


texlive works fine on my netbook (acer aspire one) with different Linux distributions. There is no need to install a special netbook edition. I had no problems with kde4 or gnome.

I installed TexLive via DVD, not via package manager and do my TeX-Works with vim. Maybe you'll like kile more (kile is an LaTeX-IDE, comparable with TeXniCenter).


You can use virtually any OS supported by the hardware and compatible with TeXLive to get good results. Your choices range from Windows to Linux and also the BSDs. Even though you have limited screen real estate, a good TeX aware editor like TeXWorks can be a very good choice to use as well as TeXLive. The entire TeXLive distribution on my system (TeXLive2010-amd64-FreeBSD) is about 2 GB, so it doesn't eat the entire disk on a newer netbook.


I just downloaded a small app for android, called VerbTex from Verbosus (verbosus.com) I allows to write/compile tex documents. Those documents can be stored locally (for free) or in verbosus host (small or unlimited -for a charge-). local documents can be edited locally but compilation is done only remotely. One good plus is that packages are already installed.


I've had great success with a netbook-suitable distro of Linux (Ubuntu Netbook Remix, specifically) and texlive from the repos. You can also set up a source control system (e.g. git, cvs, etc.) or dropbox and keep your notes synced across your netbook, laptop, home computer, server, etc.


If you decide to go on the windows side you could use a portable installation on a pendrive

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